Development and validation of an LC-MS/MS method for determination of B vitamins and some its derivatives in whole blood

PLoS One. 2022 Jul 14;17(7):e0271444. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0271444. eCollection 2022.


Obligate symbiotic bacteria associated with the insects feeding exclusively on vertebrate blood are supposed to complement B vitamins presumably lacking in their diet. Recent genomic analyses revealed considerable differences in biosynthetic capacities across different symbionts, suggesting that levels of B vitamins may vary across different vertebrate hosts. However, a rigorous determination of B vitamins content in blood of various vertebrates has not yet been approached. A reliable analytical method focused on B vitamin complex in blood can provide valuable informative background and understanding of general principles of insect symbiosis. In this work, a chromatographic separation of eight B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid, and cyanocobalamine), four B vitamin derivatives (niacinamide, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, 4-pyridoxic acid, and tetrahydrofolic acid), and 3 stable isotope labelled internal standards was developed. Detection was carried out using dual-pressure linear ion trap mass spectrometer in FullScan MS/MS and SIM mode. Except for vitamin B9 (tetrahydrofolic acid), the instrument quantitation limits of all analytes were ranging from 0.42 to 5.0 μg/L, correlation coefficients from 0.9997 to 1.0000, and QC coefficients from 0.53 to 3.2%. Optimization of whole blood sample preparation step was focused especially on evaluation of two types of protein-precipitation agents: trichloroacetic acid and zinc sulphate in methanol. The best results were obtained for zinc sulphate in methanol, but only nine analytes were successfully validated. Accuracy of the procedure using this protein-precipitating agent was ranging from 89 to 120%, precision from 0.5 to 13%, and process efficiency from 65 to 108%. The content of B vitamins in whole blood samples from human and various vertebrates is presented as an application example of this newly developed method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Folic Acid / analysis
  • Humans
  • Methanol
  • Riboflavin / analysis
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Thiamine / analysis
  • Vitamin B Complex*
  • Zinc Sulfate


  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Zinc Sulfate
  • Folic Acid
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamine
  • Methanol

Grants and funding

This research was supported by the Czech Science Foundation (website: under grant agreement No. 18-07711S. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.